Singles Only!

c/o Bob Lefsetz
8th May 2008

Don't make an album. And whatever you do don't send it to me! I don't have time. And neither does anybody else. Except for your hard core fan base. Assuming you've got one. And they might not even be interested either. The album was a moneymaker. Let's string together 10 or 12 tracks so we can charge more. That's why the labels' enabling of iTunes/Amazon/Wal-Mart to sell singles is a death wish. You get one-tenth the money! It would be like buying a car wheel by wheel. Worse. Being able to buy a car for $1000. Manufacturers want to load your automobile up with gadgets so you'll pay a high price so they can make a lot of money! Labels can't pay their bills at a buck a track. And maybe you can't either. Which is why you need a career. How do you garner new fans? By selling them sixty minutes of music? No through the single! One track! Sure the Beatles turned the paradigm upside down and made the album an art form unto itself releasing Rubber Soul" in the U.S. with no singles whatsoever. But that was forty years ago. Today albums are endless productions over sixty minutes long that everyone gave up listening to prior to the Napsterization of the music business back in the nineties when they realized albums only had one good track. They had to purchase the album to get it but no more. Furthermore how many of those nineties acts have careers today? Turns out it was only about the single! Heritage acts. Classic acts. Cut one great single! That you can do your best to work. Shit give it away for free... As an inspiration to buy a concert ticket where the true money is. Why spend all that money and time to cut an album that almost no one's going to hear? Come on when your favorite old classic act has a new album do you buy it? No not unless you're the diehard of diehards. And even those people don't expect it to be good since the act hasn't cut anything great in decades. But what if Styx put out only one track. You'd check out that track. Hell if I got e-mail telling me Styx had one great track I'd check it out even though I'm not a big fan of the band. Everybody's got time for one track... If they hear it's good. Sample fifteen seconds? Sure... If you say so. But as soon as you tell me about ten tracks and you want an hour of my time I'm out of here. Most albums take days to devour to fully understand to get...and I've got much better things to do with my time and so does the rest of your potential audience. The album is a circle jerk perpetuated by so called "artists". Do you really have that much to say? Does it really all tie together? Do I need to hear it all at once? No you just believe you're the new Beatles and you're important and you're entitled. But you're not! You're competing for mind share with not only the greatest musical hits of history all at one's fingertips online on one's iPod but 500 cable channels video games... Make it easy for me. Just give me one steaming single. That I can't deny! When we heard "I Want To Hold Your Hand" we didn't put our fingers to our chins and say...wonder what the album's gonna sound like! We did buy an album because we were infatuated with the sound and were rewarded...but we were still jerked off by not only Dave Clark Five albums but early Stones records too. And Animals albums. And Gary Lewis & the Playboy albums. Shit the album really didn't gain traction until "Sgt. Pepper" and now everybody believes they've got a "Sgt. Pepper" in them. Wrong! I'm not saying you've got to create a Clive Davis hit. Rote by numbers just like everything else. But it must grab the listener. Maybe because it's so damn different but there must be instant magic. So maybe you can have instant karma and become an instant success so people will want more! But you don't give them ten more tracks... You give them a dribbling of killers. So they end up becoming fans of the act not the track. Everything you know is wrong. The train has jumped the track. The slate has been wiped clean. The old era is over. The Internet and iPod have changed everything. Now you're only one of thousands of tracks. You've got to make it into a listener's pantheon or be deleted. How good are you? New bands... One track only. Maybe you'll get radio play good luck. But even so if it's that good people will trade it. And if you get no traction you can go back to the drawing board at a much lower price. In the old wave system you cut an unsuccessful album and you're over. Today have a stiff single and you go back to the studio! I know I know you don't like it! You want to be like the bands of yore. Maybe you are a band of yore. But no one's paying attention! They just don't care! We're constantly trolling for great stuff. We say no no no and then yes! There's not an issue of scarcity there's tons of music out there. And we haven't got time for all of it. Face that fact. Can you earn our time? It's precious. Start by asking only for a little. If we like what we hear we'll give you more. Continue to spoon-feed us let us become addicted we want to become addicted. To something good! Maybe if you can get the record company to give you a big advance or Wal-Mart to cut you a guaranteed check then you should make an album. But then it's about money not success. You're just interested in pocketing the dough. If you're interested in having a career don't spend six months or a year in the studio working up ten tracks cut one and give it away on your Website! Even the hippest haven't gotten this memo. I like a small slice of what Trent does. If he'd only put out one track and the buzz was good I'd have checked it out. A whole album? I pass. I'd rather spend my time listening to satellite radio playing only singles trying to find good new stuff. The buzz is everything. It's why "Iron Man" is a hit and "Speed Racer" will be a dud. Create something great and let the Net minions spread the word. But they can't spread the word on something that takes an hour to digest. It's kind of like when someone tells me to check out a movie online or sends me more than one track or a CD I don't bother at all! I figure this person's got no respect for my time no understanding of the marketplace thinks their shit is so great that they're entitled to attention. You've got to earn attention. You've got to beg for a minute of our time. You've got to create something so good we want to give you our time!
Bob Lefsetz